Landscape Tree Care 101

Proper Tree Care

Proper tree care is a mystery to some. Plant a tree and nature will take care of the rest, right? That may be true in some rural forests, but in your yard and in your community, trees need a special kind of care. Trees need to be protected from...people!

Trees in our neighborhood contribute to the quality of our lives, and make our communities more livable. Urban trees clean our air, cool and shade our homes, and increase the value and attractiveness of our community.

If your trees had the opportunity, would they move to your neighbor's yard? If so, here are some tips you need to know about how to make your own yard safe for trees. Learning about proper tree care can prevent you from becoming your tree's worst enemy.

Preventing Your Trees From Becoming Hazardous

The Hazard Tree Prevention Webpage is your place to view these new pages full of timely information to keep your trees healthy and avoid creating future hazards. This six step module will help you learn about how to keep your trees as an asset to your landscape.

We have also put together a pdf available detailing how to tell if your trees are becoming hazardous. Click here for more information about Hazard Tree Prevention.

The Truth About Trees

Debunking the myths:

  • Most trees do not have a taproot; they tend to be more shallow-rooted than you might think. (To see an image of a shallowly rooted tree click here.)
  • Tree wound dressing is unnecessary.
  • Trees don't need to be topped for fear they will get too big.
  • Cutting branches flush with the trunk hurts trees.

Please Don't Top Your Trees

Topping is the senseless practice of indiscriminately removing a majority of a tree's branches.

Topping violates most commonly accepted methods of proper pruning; it is an assault on the health and beauty of your trees.

Five important facts to remember about tree topping: Don't let this happen to your trees!

  1. Topping will not make trees safe; it actually creates hazardous trees.
  2. Topping makes a tree more susceptible to storm damage.
  3. Topping makes a tree more prone to insect and disease problems.
  4. Topping is: abuse, vandalism, dangerous, expensive, mutilation, ugly.
  5. Topping is a waste of money.

Check out PlantAmnesty for more information on tree topping.

How To Save Trees

Here are six easy ways to have the best looking trees in your neighborhood:

  1. Plant the right tree in the right place. Dogwoods don't belong in full sun, Douglas-fir shouldn't be planted under the powerlines.
  2. Water and mulch newly planted trees. Mulch with a ring of woodchips extending out 2 feet from the base of the tree.
  3. Protect trees from mowers, weedeaters, and other equipment. Avoid growing grass right up to the base of the tree.
  4. The soil should be firm around the trunk, but don't pack the soil tightly when planting. Mulch around the tree to avoid soil compaction and root suffocation. Leave roots alone.
  5. Prune according to accepted methods. Hire an arborist when the job is too big. For more information on how to hire a professional arborist, check out our Hiring An Arborist page.
  6. If you think a tree needs to be topped, you might be better off cutting the tree down and planting a smaller variety.

Correct pruning is the best thing you can do for your tree.

Other Sources of Information

The International Society of Arboriculture publishes a series of brochures on quality tree care as part of its Consumer Information Program. For further information contact: ISA, PO Box 3129, Champaign, IL 61826, USA.

The National Arbor Day Foundation publishes a series of Tree City USA Bulletins on a variety of tree care topics, including: Don't Top Trees, How to Hire an Arborist, Plant the Right Tree in the Right Place, How to Prune Young Trees and many more. To join, write NADF, 100 Arbor Avenue, Nebraska City, NE 68410.

And, be sure to check out our own general links page for additional resources and information.